MAZON: USDA Waiver Rule Change Proposal Ignores the Realities of Millions of Americans

February 1, 2019

Los Angeles, CA (February 1, 2019)—Earlier today, the Trump Administration posted a notice for proposed rulemaking through the USDA to restrict states’ flexibility to provide vital nutrition support to people who struggle to feed themselves and their families. This new attack against the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an attempt to circumvent congressional intent as laid out in the recently-passed bipartisan Farm Bill reauthorization, and it could not be more out of touch with the reality of struggling American workers.

The recent 35-day government shutdown revealed the economic vulnerability of middle-class Americans and the vital importance of a federal nutrition safety net. In recent weeks, thousands of federal workers turned to the charitable food sector to meet their basic needs. Despite dozens of food pantries springing up, thousands of hard-working Americans still could not put food on the table. The charitable food sector is in no way equipped to respond to the scope of food insecurity in America—and the shutdown only highlights the critical need for SNAP.

Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, said of the USDA’s proposed rule change:

“With this move, President Trump is undermining the entire Farm Bill process and circumventing the clear intent of Congress. Make no mistake—this will hurt millions of Americans who struggle to feed themselves and their families. This is nothing short of a subversion of democracy.

“Proposing to rescind state waivers for work requirements ignores the realities of millions of Americans who work inconsistent hours, lack access to transportation, live in areas where the economy has been slow to recover, or aren’t able to access employment and training programs—all of whom could fail to meet harsher work requirements and, as a result, would lose access to life-saving nutrition benefits.

“We are particularly outraged on behalf of America’s veterans, who would be severely impacted by this cruel policy. Recent veterans face unique challenges in securing full-time work, and may require more than three months to secure employment. This administration lauds the military when it’s politically advantageous, but has little regard for our servicemembers once they’ve returned. Exposing more veterans in need to this strict penalty is simply wrong. We cannot let this happen.”